“The Christian worldview,” so emphasized by Christian thinkers and educators for at least two generations, has its adversary in “secularism,” and the sexual consequences of that worldview has both severe legal implications and requires a difficult response for anyone being faithful to Christ. This point was clear from presentations the annual apologetic conference of the L’Abri Fellowship in Rochester, Minnesota, on Feb. 12 -13. A discussion of how secularist sexual morality proceeds logically was provided by Douglas Groothuis, Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary and Christian apologist. He showed how secularism has consequences for sexual morality that are difficult to avoid.
Groothuis claimed that secularism “has no framework and no foundation,” and said “we are pretty far down that slope, and this is not the slippery slope fallacy.” The slippery slope fallacy is the “wrong linking of ideas.” The slope Groothuis discussed was a slope of “philosophical inevitability, [of] inescapability.”
“Francis Schaeffer said that finite and fallible and sinful human beings need a reference point to make sense of our lives,” Groothuis noted. Agreeing with Pascal, Schaeffer said that “humans make very miserable gods.” When we declare autonomy from God, we have the burden of defining ourselves apart from God, who is then not our savior. The truth disclosed by both natural and Biblical revelations, Groothuis said, is that the continued existence and nature of the world and humanity depends on God, who is their creator. The world was created according to God’s mind; God created each thing according to its kind. In addition to being alienated from God, we are also alienated from ourselves and with nature. Human beings, without Christ and special revelation, are disoriented. “If everyone is moving toward depravity, no one seems to be moving.” But if someone is not moving with the rest, he stands out because he is a fixed point. Groothuis quoted Pascal as saying “ultimately, Christ is the fixed point, the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
Currently, the phenomenon of a fixed point seeming strange is happening in the area of sexual morality, Groothuis said. Sexual behavior is now experiencing a “deviation,” a “degeneration” from what it should be. We must “seek first the kingdom and his righteousness.” In that way, through the knowledge of Scripture, we can know God, the world, and ourselves. Groothuis again quoted Schaeffer: “the full restoration cannot come until Christ returns,” but we should try to bring “substantial restoration” to every area of life. “We live to be a preserving agent in the culture,” Groothuis said. We must follow a doctrine for exiles. “How do you live as an exile under the lordship of God, according to his revelation?” The answer is to “’Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile’” [Jer. 29:7] …we are in a sense becoming internal exiles …we are culturally and politically and legally and financially exiled … An exile loses rights and prerogatives, and loses freedom.” Nevertheless, “a godly exile does not mean unproductivity, a lack of bearing fruit … we are surrounded by worldliness, but we are to pursue godliness … we are to be fixed points in a generation slipping into increasing depravity.”
As internal exiles, we face is the worldview of the “elites of American culture.” This includes particularly the viewpoint of the legal profession, the academic world, and the mass media. It is also the “unofficial worldview of American state education … Often, what is not stated is more powerful, intellectually and culturally, than what is stated.” Atheism is the true presupposition, but often is not clearly stated. The secularist worldview concerning morality, however, states that:
1) There is no transcendent authority concerning objective morality or spirituality.
2) There is no final judgment, in which all humans will be brought to account for the way they have lived their lives – there is no fear of God, there can only be the fear of human beings – we are simply constrained by human law; personal peace, not conscience, is the consideration for our actions.
3) There is no moral order to creation – there are scientific laws, but no moral laws. Nietzsche said “the nut of existence is hollow.”
4) There are no absolute universal truths of morality, human beings construct and deconstruct values – “it is all negotiable, and fungible, and variable” – law is altered, not by the consensus, but by what C.S. Lewis called “the conditioners.”
5) Therefore, sexual activity and sexual institutions are fluid and negotiable, there is no one right way to be sexually.
6) Therefore, marriage cannot be limited to heterosexual monogamy, nor can sexual activity be limited to activity within marriage.
7) Therefore, those who claim moral authority based on the character and will of God, are wrong and dangerous – they must be silenced and re-educated
8) Therefore, those who claim that some sexual relationships are morally wrong must be punished; churches and Christian organizations that condemn immoral relationships will lose tax exemption; speech and writing against the secular view of sex will be censored – Islam is an exception; it is considered to be simply expressing its culture.
“Same-sex marriage is now a constitutional right,” Groothuis said. This is more than merely allowing people to live together in a sexual relationship, but the reinterpreting of an institution of western civilization (really, a pre-political institution). Therefore:
1) All rights and privileges of marriage now pertain to same-sex couples.
2) This denies the original meaning of the constitution, and is an act of deconstruction.
3) Those who disagree with the court’s ruling are morally wrong and socially unacceptable – therefore, the law will not respect them – “the law is based on some view of reality; all law is an enactment of some moral vision.”
4) Since the reality of male and female sexuality and moral norms are denied, pedophilia, incest, and bestiality must not be wrong.
5) Therefore all these activities must be decriminalized, since these laws discriminate against people who want to have sex with children and animals.
The more the courts proceed down the slippery slope, the more common ground is lost between Christians and society. But if we have to go down, Groothuis said, we should go down fighting, we should “keep being the salt and light.” He pointed out that all Christian apologetics refutes moral relativism. It can easily be shown that the secular view of sex is false, but it is the taken for granted view of the Western elite. Any other arguments are never considered. Beyond faith, there are “good and sufficient reasons” to hold the Christian worldview and to deny the secular worldview. “Entire enterprise of Christian apologetics refutes” the secular worldview that there is no transcendent authority and no obvious difference between male and female sexuality and its procreative purpose. This apologetic “would stop the slippery slope right at the beginning.”
If anyone doubts that the sexual revolution will proceed to polyamory and the complete suppression of traditional sexual morality, Groothuis noted that homosexual liberation has been incremental, well planned, and strategic. Same-sex marriage was supposed to infringe on no one’s rights, its implementation has resulted in intolerance toward the civil liberties of those who disagree, and this is even reflected in the Supreme Court’s recent same-sex marriage decision itself.
Groothuis held that in the present dire situation, we should argue on the basis of worldviews and their logical consequences. We should engage the conflict over sexual morality on the high ground of rational argument, knowing that advocates of traditional morality will receive much abuse. This should be done by teaching, writing, debating, and one-on-one conversation. “Let’s try to reinvigorate real dialogue,” he said. “We need to preserve the integrity of our position through the truths of the Bible, conversation, research, and refinement through suffering and the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Intolerance to Christian organizations often involves homosexual activists appointing someone to make a claim in hiring, firing, or service, which is then the basis of a lawsuit, Groothuis said. He predicted that with a few years churches will be faced with a loss of tax exemption due to teaching and/or enforcement of sexual morality. But “we are exiled with a voice, we are exiled with moral agency, and we are exiled with Biblical authority.” Groothuis did offer the hope that “perhaps the exiles will gain moral authority” once again. However, Christians should “prepare for persecution of one kind or another … the only way I see us avoiding this is through national repentance … Certainly we are to refer to the fixed point, the infinite-personal triune, redeeming God of Scripture. This is the final reality.”
In response to a question, Groothuis said a very superficial justification for same-sex marriage is the “love is love” argument. This same argument would also justify polyamorous relationships. Another questioner asked about persecution of people with Christian consciences concerning sexual morality. Groothuis said a likely scenario for such persecution would be a pre-pubescent child denied a sex-change operation he or she wants. If the child files suit, the parents could be fined or imprisoned. But he said that on all these specific questions, unless the secular premise is denied, the secularist elites will get their way, and the popular culture will follow.
How we respond to the slippery slope outlined by Dr. Groothuis must be based on God’s revelation. Where this conflicts with the law, we cannot modify our practice. Rather, prudence, and perhaps, in many cases, taking the penalty, will be necessary. One consequence of this may be the faithful Christians will become an underclass. But we also need a clear response to same-sex marriage, now the lynchpin of secularist sexual morality, whether our response is accepted or not. This was covered in another presentation at the conference, to be reviewed in a subsequent article.